Friday, January 05, 2007

The Lafayette Show

Last night, I wrote an exhaustive entry on why Lafayette, Louisiana is the most conceited city I've ever seen. It was spurred by Thursday's Daily Advertiser editorial page, in which several editorials and letters spoke of said conceitedness. Halfway through the missive, however, my browser crashed and I lost the whole thing. But it boils down to this:

Lafayette lives up to its ambiguous motto: "The big city with small-town values." Despite the assumption that a culturally diverse city of 100,000+ residents with both a major university and a thriving petroleum industry would be wealthy and wise, Lafayette is neither. Half of the city is a sprawling shopping mall, and the other half is a mini-mall going out of business. And no one can get to either one, because the nihilist road system leads only to 1957. This poor planning might be attributed to the fact that otherwise bright people don't go to college because oil drilling promises more money than a degree ever will. And that half of the students actually in college can barely spell the word.

To be fair, though, Lafayette currently has a 2.5 percent unemployment rate. That's the best in the state of Louisiana; though I can't imagine they had much competition, considering New Orleans is only beginning to re-exist, Baton Rouge and Shreveport perpetually suck and the rest of the state is trees. Kudos to the Hub City for being sufficiently stingy with their unemployment benefits so that it looks like 97.5 percent of the populace are working their dream jobs, which is the impression you'd get by reading the local media. "Lafayette was voted Best Place on the Planet yet again! So why would you want to go anywhere else? Your plane might crash!" Yes, Truman Burbank would fit right in.

I had said it all more eloquently than that in the erased post; but that's the gist of it.


cord said...

Maybe this is off the subject, and maybe not...

I scrolled down through the Advertizer Editorials that you'd linked to, and came across one by longtime letters-to-the-ed stalwart Frank Broussard that began by chastising Liberals for not knowing friend from foe, and claimed Augusto Pinochet should be considered the former, for saving Chile from Communism. It just got murkier from there, no more said about Pinochet, no justification is given as to why I should overlook the tens of thousands tortured and murdered under said regime (not even any mention of this fact at all). I liked the Advertiser better when such assinine commentary wasn't endorsed as 'editorial'.

What's going on over there?

Ian McGibboney said...

If you read the Advertiser editorial page aloud, cord, you'll hear the sound of sane voices reading other newspapers.

Nick said...

I'm not sure what you see wrong with Lafayette finally recognizing that it is the most economically successful city in the state right now, and therefore, they should see more state tax dollars sent their way due to what they bring in for Louisiana. Why should there have been a road tax when Lafayette should see increased funding from the state right now?

Times have changed, and Louisiana's state "leaders" need to realize that. New Orleans will not return to its previous glory. It's 25 feet below sea level, and the city was on the downfall economically anyway BEFORE Katrina. Lafayette is where I-10 and I-49 meet, and at some point in the future, I-49 will continue through Lafayette. It's close enough to the coast to support ports in Iberia and Vermilion Parishes.

Yes, Lafayette's problems with roads are due to bad planning, but New Orleans was never exactly designed by a genius either, as anyone who has ever tried to drive around the city knows.

I fully support Lafayette's representatives fighting to make the state realize it needs to send more support to the city, as opposed to the residents having to foot the whole bill because the politicians in Baton Rouge are still too concerned with New Orleans.

Baton Rouge's reps. have been fighting for more tax dollars to improve their infastructure as well since they've also inherited a larger population and more businesses since Katrina. Maybe Lafayette and Baton Rouge's reps. need to join forces, then they'd see much better cooperation from the rest of the state.

Ian McGibboney said...

I don't have a problem with Lafayette getting its due; I take issue with the illusion of it all. With all of the progress made in the local economy in the last 20 years, it's still not nearly as diverse as it needs to be. And if Lafayette has pretensions of grandeur, then it needs to have a workforce than rewards the skills of the people it graduates. Given that Joey Durel walked up to my door during his campaign and spoke to me one-on-one about how serious the brain drain is, I'd say that remains a problem.

So what's the solution? I don't know. I'm not all that sure there IS one. All I know is that printing a pseudo-rosy view of the employment situation here does not make it so. And saying that our job market is the best in Louisiana is more of a scathing indictment on the rest of the state than it is an endorsement of Lafayette's practices.